The last of the munchkins from The Wizard of Oz Jerry Maren has died. He was 98.
Jerry Maren, the final living member of the Lollipop Guild, died last month at a nursing home in San Diego, according to TMZ. Maren’s cause of death is unknown but a funeral was held for the actor over the weekend at Forest Lawn in Hollywood. Rolling Stone reports Maren had dementia.
His death was confirmed by two separate Facebook posts from family members, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Maren became the last living Oz munchkin in 2014 when co-star Ruth Duccini died, Rolling Stone said.
Maren was born on Jan. 24, 1920 in Boston, Massachusetts, according to his IMDB profile. His death was reported in March 2016 and it was said at the time that Maren had died from pancreatic cancer, but those reports were later confirmed untrue by his close friend Steve Cox, who co-authored the 2006 book Short and Sweet: The Life and Times of the Lollipop Munchkin.
The three-foot-four-inch actor got the role of munchkin in the 1939 film after taking acting lessons at a young age and then joining a group of Hollywood-bound little people on a bus to California from New York at 19 years old. Though he is uncredited in the film, according to IMDB’s biography, which was written by Cox, Maren played the green-outfitted munchkin that hands Dorothy (Judy Garland) a lollipop to welcome her to Munchkin Land.
“She was a lovely gal,” Maren said of co-star Garland in a 2011 interview with patch.com. “She always waved at us and said, ‘Hi kids, hi gang!’ She was a typical teenager. She loved us as much as we loved her. We fell in love with her.”
Maren is credited with several other acting roles throughout his 72-year career, including roles on Bewitched, The Twilight Zone, Seinfeld, and The Odd Couple. His last role came in 2010 when he played a mime in the movie Dahmer vs. Gacy.